Oral pathology is concerned with the assessment, diagnosis and management of diseases occurring in the mouth, face or jaws. Diseases may present solely in the mouth, or conditions that you have elsewhere in your body can present in your mouth. A thorough examination and assessment will be completed by your surgeon. Further imaging may be required and this can include plain x-ray films or 3D imaging such as CT scans. In addition, a biopsy is often required. Once a diagnosis is reached, your surgeon will advise of the best course of treatment forward.
WHAT IS A BIOPSY?
There are times when a health practitioner may notice an area that looks different in comparison to the surrounding tissues. In the mouth, this may occur on the soft tissue such as the gums, tongue, roof of the mouth, cheeks or lips, or in the hard tissues such as the jaw bones. It may be your presenting complaint or an incidental finding during a routine examination. Your health practitioner may refer this to someone who has more experience in handling these rarer lesions. There are hundreds of different conditions that can present in the mouth. Just because you have been referred for a biopsy does not mean that is necessarily sinister but it is always worthwhile to get these things checked out for peace of mind.
A biopsy is a medical test commonly performed by a surgeon that involves removing a small sample of the tissue for examination by a Pathologist to determine the presence or extent of a disease. With experience, clinicians develop a ‘surgical sieve’ to compartmentalise what a presenting lesion could potentially be. They will rule out others carrying out simple tests, but ultimately will require a biopsy for confirmation of their differential diagnoses. The sample may be one, multiple or the entirety of the lesion. The surgeon will then send this to a Pathology Laboratory with notes outlining their clinical findings.
The Pathologist will use particular chemical tests and look at the sample under a microscope to finalise their diagnosis. They will then write a report and return this to the surgeon. Your surgeon will discuss the Pathologist’s findings and whether any further treatment is necessary.
Your surgeon will take your Medicare details for submission of the sample and the Pathologist will bill you directly. You may receive some monies back from Medicare for their report.
ORAL MEDICINE AND PATHOLOGY